Maybe Kansas is All Right After All

MAYBE KANSAS IS ALL RIGHT AFTER ALL….Dani Rodrik reproduces a chart from Larry Bartels today that is, indeed, striking: it shows that economic growth is better for every income class — both rich and poor — under Democrats than it is under Republicans. The affluent, as you’d expect, do way better than the poor under Republican presidents, but even at that they don’t do quite as well as they do under Democrats:

Bartels shows in his book that this difference is not a statistical artifact or a fluke. It is not the result of Democrats coming to power during better economic times, or of Republicans reining in the unsustainable excesses of Democratic administrations they replace.

….Bartels’ findings raise an important puzzle: if Democrats produce better income results for everyone, and particularly for the more numerous lower-income groups, why do they not always win?

You might think the answer is that lots of working class voters vote on social issues rather than pocketbook issues — the What’s The Matter With Kansas? theory. And that’s probably part of it. But an even more intriguing answer comes in an additional pair of charts from….Larry Bartels. You can see them here. They are absolutely fascinating, and absolutely worth a good, long look. Even if Bartels is wrong, this is really thought provoking stuff.

And while you’re at it, here’s a followup. It’s not quite as fascinating, but it’s certainly worth a click.